November brings some colder and wetter days to central Oregon. It was time to head south, for a week, southern Utah was the destination. It’s a bit of a drive to get there so the first day was all windshield time. We ended the day just as dark settled in at Cathedral Gorge State Park in Nevada. It seemed like a nice spot but it wasn’t until morning that we were able to get oriented. The sun was just up as we headed out but we stopped to take a look around before hitting the road. It looked like an interesting place surrounded by highly eroded hills.
A sign indicated that this picnic ramada was built by the CCC’s in 1934. 1934! They have apparently done a bit of maintenance on the willow thatch roof every so often, but what a testament to the value of the work done in those days.
After that it was on to our first destination, Zion National Park. Arriving on a Saturday we found the typical crowds encountered in most national parks these days. We were still able to find a place to camp that allowed a place to base a days worth of exploration out of.
November typically signals the end to river floating season. In the past, seeing November roll around was a bit depressing. No more floating, fishing is pretty much over and the days are really short on daylight. It seems nowadays there’s no shortage of things to get done in November, so it’s not all that depressing, but it still marks the end of river floating season. And wow, was 2017 a season for floats.
I feel very lucky to be able to live in a place that I can float 7 rivers in a year (some multiple times) all within a one day drive of the doorstep. So these are my thoughts reflecting back on a year of being lucky enough to float over 360 miles on 7 rivers in Oregon in 2017.
How amazing is it to have the Deschutes as your backyard river? 1.5 hours to the put in, abundant permits, amazing trout fishing with bonus steelhead in the fall, and great camping and even hiking if you make the time for it. Trips to the Deschutes are kind of the bookend to the floating season. It is typically one of, if not the first trips of the season and is also commonly the last trip. It seems like it is always a good time to float the Deschutes with a wide season of good weather, predictable flows and great fishing, I don’t know what else to ask of a river. Fishing seems like it is on the decline, but I don’t ever see a year in the future without the Deschutes.
After leaving Stanley and the Sawtooths we headed south through Ketchum for a quick restock for the remainder of the week and then we were off over Trail Creek Summit to the headwaters of the Big Lost River. It was a homecoming of sorts, going back to a place I worked over 20 years ago. But mainly it was a visit to one of my favorite places of high mountains, lakes and streams. This is high country, with valleys over 7,000 and elevations topping out over 12,000. October gets to be a bit late for a visit due to cold overnight temperatures in this country, but it’s hard to get away much earlier in the year, so we made the best of it.
The first destination was Kane Canyon. We were hoping to get up to Kane Lake, which may just be my favorite high alpine lake, but quickly encountered snow on the trail which slowed us down. Snow, ice and short fall daylight led us to turn around with about a half mile left so we could get back to the trailhead and find a camp before dark. It was still nice to get up into the mountains.
We were back down to the trailhead with plenty of light left. Someone had cut some large rounds of Douglas-fir and left them at the trailhead. A portion of two rounds was all we needed to top off our firewood supplies for the rest of the trip so we quickly did just that and then headed down canyon in search of a camp. The canyon is full of beaver dams and willows and we kept saying, “There ought to be a moose in there!”, and sure enough there was. Just a couple of horns and some flicking ears at first, but then he came out to say hello.